Horizon Award

Gary E. Bird Horizon Award

Recognizing Innovation in Construction Risk Management

Given every year at the IRMI Construction Risk Conference (CRC), the award is named in honor of Gary E. Bird. Gary expanded the risk management horizon as he searched for new and innovative ways to approach the risks associated with large construction projects. He also demonstrated his industry leadership by mentoring a generation of construction professionals.

Submission deadline is August 31, 2022.

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Donna Nardella (1)

The 2021 Gary E. Bird Horizon Award was presented at the 41st IRMI Construction Risk Conference (CRC) to Donna Nardella with Suffolk Construction Company.  

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About the Award

Who Was Gary Bird?

Gary Bird

Gary Bird was the director of risk management for Phelps Dodge Corporation for 12 years, the original author of The Wrap-Up Guide published by IRMI, and a forward-thinking and respected member of the construction risk management community. An avid horseman, he felt claustrophobic in big cities because he "needed to see the horizon."

Along with many friends and colleagues, Gary tragically died on September 11, 2001. Afterward, IRMI renamed the Construction Risk Management Best Practices Award the Gary E. Bird Horizon Award in honor of his memory.

Mission Statement

The purpose is to promote the awareness of innovative techniques, processes, and programs that are effective in construction risk management. The identification and communication of these best practices will assist others in the risk management community to review and develop their own best practices.

Innovation Award Image

Horizon Award Submission Process

All award submissions are due by August 31, 2022. To learn more about the award submission process and to download a submission packet, click on the topics below. 

    The award is open to all full-time business professionals charged with managing construction risks for their employers who have been at their current positions for at least 3 years. At the time of application, this individual must be involved in the development of a construction-oriented risk management technique, process, or program that is innovative and effective.

    Candidates may be nominated or may nominate themselves by completing a submission packet. To ensure impartiality, the submission itself must not contain any reference to the candidate or the candidate’s organization. The completed submission must be received by IRMI on or before August 31, 2022. Use your submission checklist, and return it with your submission.

    Submissions will be accepted for techniques, processes, or programs applicable in one of the following categories. 

    • Enterprise Risk Management Initiatives  

    • Loss Control 

    • Risk Analysis 

    • Risk Financing 

    • Risk Transfer 

    Information to evaluate the nominated candidate’s technique, process, or program must be provided by completing the submission packet electronically in a Word file and returning it along with the candidate’s professional biography. Each section must not exceed 5 pages in length, and the total submission document must be less than 20 pages, excluding charts, illustrations, and other accompanying documentation. Required items include the following.
    • Section One: An overview that provides information about the candidate and the candidate’s organization, along with a concise overview of the technique, process, or program

    • Section Two: Description of the innovation

    • Section Three: Explain the need in the construction industry that the innovation addresses

    • Section Four: Describe the innovation’s potential or actual impact on the construction industry

    • Executed publishing agreement

    Eligible submissions will be judged by a panel composed of leading construction industry specialists, which will likely include insurance brokers, insurance company representatives, and risk management professionals representing owners and contractors. Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria. 

    • Innovativeness 

    • Adaptability 

    • Effectiveness 

    • Current Applicability 

    Every eligible submission received will be judged individually by each member of the judging panel based on the submission criteria outlined above and assigned a numerical score. All scores assigned to a submission by the judging panel will then be averaged to develop a composite score and determine a winner. 

    More Information

    Horizon Award Winners

    2021 Winner | Donna Nardella

    The Gary E. Bird Horizon Award was presented at the 41st IRMI Construction Risk Conference (CRC) to Donna Nardella, national director of planning for Suffolk Construction. The winning submission highlighted an investigative risk management program called nPlan, which is an AI-led forecasting platform that approaches schedule risk analysis from a new angle. The innovative algorithm has so far been trained with ~450,000 schedules and applies machine learning techniques to derive risk insights that empower proactive intervention to improve project performance.  Each month Suffolk tracked P-values from nPlan platform to measure the reliability of the project finishing by the required completion date.  The program evaluated top forecasted threats and opportunities in a truly agile way for Suffolk to investigate and find solutions. The output of the program over the course a year was able to help Suffolk improve the duration accuracy for the Hale Hospital construction in Boston Ma. within 11 days of the planned end-date by applying risk mitigation insights. 

    Learn more about the winning submission.

    Read the full press release.

    Prior Winners

    • 2020 Winner

    • 2019 Winner

    • 2018 Winner

    • 2017 Winner

    • 2016 Winner

    • 2014 Winner

    • 2013 Winner

    • 2011 Winner

    • 2012 Winner

    • 2010 Winner

    • 2009 Winner

    • 2015 Winner

    • 2008 Winner

    • 2007 Winner

    • 2006 Winner

    • 2005 Winner

    • 2004 Winner

    • 2003 Winner

    • 2002 Winner

    • 2001 Winner

    • 2000 Winner

    • 1999 Winner